(Reuters) – Roger Federer is optimistic his back is on the mend as he prepares to return to action in the Wimbledon warm-up event on Stuttgart’s grasscourts this week.
The seven-times Wimbledon champion, whose unbroken run of 65 consecutive appearances at grand slam tournaments ended when he withdrew from the French Open last month because of back pain, has been hitting in Germany.
“I feel much better again. It’s been a good last three weeks. No setbacks,” Federer told the ATP’s website (www.atpworld tour.com).
“My back’s good again. I feel much stronger. I was pretty fragile three weeks ago.”
The 17-times grand slam champion has been riddled with injuries this year — leading to suggestions time was finally catching up with the evergreen 34-year-old.
“It’s been a tough year,” Federer, who also had minor knee surgery, said. “But I’m super excited about playing another tournament.”
While missing the French was a blow, a longer-than-usual rest and more preparation time on the grass could augur well for his Wimbledon hopes as he seeks an 18th major having been beaten in the final by Novak Djokovic for the past two years.
“It was much better for me to look forward to the rest of the season, rest of my life, really,” Federer said.
“I didn’t want to have setback after setback and injure myself maybe further. In hindsight, that was definitely the right decision.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)